Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Once considered taboo in Odia society,  condoms seem to have become the most preferred family planning measure in Odisha. Popping up a pill is no more a trend in Odisha, nor is going under the scalpel (vasectomy/hysterectomy) or insertions like IUCDs.

The 'rubber shields' sale recorded a strong growth among family planning tools at the disposal of couples in the State. Sterilisations, IUCD and pills as contraceptive methods have posted a feeble growth in 2018-19.

According to the data available with Odisha Health & Family welfare Department, the users of condoms have  grown by nearly 3 per cent to touch nearly 1.28 lakh in 2017-18. And the distribution of rubber tools had crossed the 1 crore mark to touch 1.162 crore in 2017-18.

The demand seems to be maintaining the pace with the total condom distribution crossing 70.5 lakh during the period April - December 2018-19.

The latest data available with the State H&FW department reveals some eye-popping facts. The demand for the family planning tool is bigger in tribal districts than some of their coastal counterparts.

Sample this. Malkangiri, which languished at the bottom in socio-economic indicators, has seen distribution to the tune of around 1.7 lakh vis-a-vis mere 68, 729 in Jagatsinghpur during the period of April - June 2018-19. And Nuapada has posted a rise in condom demand in 2018-19.

But the most spunky figures come from Khurda district, the State Headquarters, that leads the State tally in the condom usage in the State.

How big the condom custom in the district is evident from the fact that when Ganjam has an adult population of around 28 lakhs, the condom pieces distributed during period April - December 18-19 was around 3.4 lakhs. In contrast, when the adult population in Khurda district is around 18 lakhs, the distribution of the pieces stood at a whopping over 9 lakh during the period.

Another big endorser of these 'rubber shields' in Odisha is Bhadrak district. A total of over 4 lakh pieces have been distributed to eligible couples during the period this fiscal.

However, the provisional data with the State H&FW department reveals that condom demand in Cuttack district has been poor during the current financial year. Against a distribution of over 4 lakh during the period of 2017-18, the total pieces distributed in Apr-Dec 2018-19 stood at mere 2.67 lakh.

Coastal districts like Puri and Balasore have shown a rise in demand of condoms during the period April- Dec in 2018-19. In Western Odisha, the demand for condoms have posted a rise of around 20 per cent in Sambalpur in 2018-19; Whereas the districts like Bargarh and Sundergarh have posted a status quo in demand.

The condom usage in Odisha was on the ascent, finds the NFHS-4. During the last decade, the users of condoms in Odisha had grown to 3.4 per cent in 2015-16 from 3 per cent in 2005-06. The report considered the penetration in Odisha as low compared to neighbouring States like Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.